Diving In...Carefully

So, it’s decided. I’m doing the 20% Project with my classes. All of them. English 2 Honors and AP English Lang. I couldn’t decide on which class would enjoy or benefit from it more, so they both win out!

After months of reading with secret excitement and speculation, I’ve realized that the only way I’m going to pull this off is by actually throwing myself into this experience entirely. Otherwise, I would be planning and nitpicking and strategizing for many more months. That’s not what this project is about. There is only so much structure I can provide, but this is about their motivations, their passions, and their structures.

Friday, we’ll start by following Chris Kesler’s lead and playing the viral Kid President Pep Talk video. Although I’m sure several students will have seen it, I feel it’ll be a good taste of what I want from them. The expectation that they throw themselves into these projects because they care about them. In case you haven’t seen it, here it is:

This is my passion project. When I first started reading about it. I learned about Genius Hour from Chris Kesler. As I kept reading, I kept wondering how I can bring this into an English classroom, especially in a state and county that focuses on the teacher’s responsibility for keeping students occupied for the entire class period each day. Then, I found Kevin Brookhouser. After reading practically his entire blog, I still didn’t feel ready.

My hesitation makes sense. How can I possibly do this when all my students are focused on doing exactly what the teacher tells them to do? How can I justify this in a county where Marzano rules, and I need data to back everything up? How can I accomplish this when there are state and national assessments coming up and I still have to cover two novels with my AP students and a Shakespeare play with my sophomores?

Thankfully, I was paired up with an intern this semester who was not only willing to tackle the challenge with me, but who also was as excited about it as I was! Moreover, she had some experience in her coursework in developing flipped lessons, so she’ll definitely help me make time for it. She’s done her fair amount of research as well, so we’re as prepared as we’re going to be.

Excuses are gone. The only way I’ll do this is by doing it. Besides, if I don’t, what kind of example will I be setting for my students?

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